Visit for award-winning wines, inviting culinary experiences, culture and adventure.
Going to the rugged Oregon Coast from Crater Lake? Follow the Rogue River from its source at Boundary Springs west of the national park down into the Rogue Valley. The River runs south before cutting west and through Grants Pass, a place you must explore for its river access and Pacific Northwest culture. Spend a weekend exploring world class wineries, inventive local dining and abundant opportunities to get outside and work up an appetite.
Day 1: Downtown on Foot
Get oriented by exploring downtown Grants Pass on foot. Don’t miss the Historic District, home to turn-of-the-century buildings and a thriving community of shops, galleries and cultural institutions. The Grants Pass Museum of Art exhibits rotating contemporary works from local and national artists. Then select your own piece from Gallery One, which showcases the works of Rogue Valley artists. Enjoy a little gourmet shopping at Hellgate Cellars’ Marketplace, which stocks beverages and specialty food items made by local producers.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, drop in at Partake for happy hour. This bottle shop, artisan cheese counter and lounge offers wine (including Dwell Pinot Gris by the glass) and craft cocktails to pair with cheese and charcuterie boards. Hungrier travelers should visit The Twisted Cork, which stocks a rotating selection of local wines to complement a menu featuring a range of flavorful skewers, like Korean-inspired braised pork belly and Moroccan-seasoned lamb, or make a reservation at Carson’s Bistro, known for their comfort-food offerings like bourbon-ketchup meatloaf.
Seeking an evening out? The Barnstormers Theatre has been entertaining Grants Pass audiences since 1952, and the Rogue Valley Symphony regularly holds performances in the 750-seat Grants Pass Performing Arts Center at Grants Pass High School.
Day 2: Trails, Vineyards and Local Dining
After morning coffee, fill up your water bottles and head south to the Cathedral Hills Trail System. With 10 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, there’s a route for every fitness and energy level. Springtime brings a flush of wildflowers to this Douglas fir and ponderosa pine forest, including the delicate lavender blooms of oak toothwort.
After all that exercise, it’s time to refuel. Continue on to Schmidt Family Vineyards, an estate winery set into beautifully landscaped grounds. Linger over a glass of Schmidt Family Vineyards’ 2015 Syrah, which pairs surprisingly well with a classic pepperoni flatbread pizza from the winery’s wood-fired oven.
Just be sure to save room for dessert. A few miles down the road is Super Natural Chocolate Company, a mostly vegan selection of handcrafted chocolate products made without refined white sugar or artificial additives. Try the Orange Rawbanero, their award-winning orange and habanero raw dark-chocolate truffle.
On the way back to town, swing by Apricity Vineyard. This agriculturally focused vineyard and winery takes a low-intervention approach, with LIVE-certified vineyards and a minimalist hand in the cellar. Enjoy a tasting, then pick up a couple of bottles to take home. Apricity’s 2017 Runner Red — a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Primitivo — is a local favorite.
It’s not a trip to Grants Pass without a farm-to-table dinner at The Vine, a cozy restaurant featuring Italian-inspired dishes and a wide selection of Southern Oregon wines. Order the lemon-piccata chicken served with capellini and lemon-caper coulis, then ask your server for a local wine recommendation — the list is always changing. With locally sourced non-GMO and organic certified ingredients, and many gluten free options, there’s something for everyone.
Day 3: Out on the Rogue
Wake up with coffee and a pastry from Rogue Roasters, then end your weekend by getting out onto the sparkling water of the Rogue River with one of Grants Pass’ many outfitters. This Wild and Scenic River offers something for everyone, from anglers seeking a placid morning casting for steelhead to adrenaline junkies aching for whitewater.
Briggs Rogue River Trips offers a range of guided fishing experiences, including single-day trips where all you need to bring is a fishing license and suitable clothing. Or book a rafting trip with Orange Torpedo, which offers everything from half-day family-friendly trips to adventurous multiday excursions.
After a day on the Rogue River, enjoy a glass of wine at one of the breathtaking wineries of the Upper Rogue, including Del Rio Vineyards, Cliff Creek Cellars, Kriselle Cellars and Bayer Family Estate and take a bottle or two with you to enjoy on the Coast.
Hungry after a day of fun? Look for the red-peaked roof on E Street and grab a classic diner burger — and a side of onion rings or sweet potato fries, of course — at Jimmy’s Classic Drive-In, a quick but necessary stop before heading to your next Oregon destination.
By Margarett Waterbury